Friday, 14 August 2015

Laser Pegs Hands-On Review - Light Up Construction Bricks

Laser Pegs are sets of light up construction bricks which are compatible with leading brands. The sets includes regular brick and stud pieces and others that have coloured LEDs inside - these pieces come in a variety of shapes that join together to take power from a powered base unit.

The sets often have lots of different models to build around a theme. You can also buy a variety of extension sets and accessories that encourage kids to design their own models that light up.

We're always on the look out for ways to add tech to our construction toys so it was about time we took a look at Laser Pegs.

Laser Pegs 24 in 1 National Geographic Space Set

This is the set we have and it's a nice big starter set. The triangular base has three power pegs which means that two kids can play at the same time. Adding another base later would be more convenient, but this was a good way to get started.

There are some really good models to build with this set including a Moon Rover, Astronaut (pictured) and a really big Star Cruiser ship. This is a fantastic set for kids interested in space. There are lots of other themed kits to choose from if space doesn't appeal to your child. The models range from really simple builds that only use a small number of the pieces to bigger builds that use most of them.

This isn't a construction set with a few light up bricks to add effects. The light up bricks are the main part of the set and you can build quite a lot using just the light up bricks and adding non-light up pieces for extra details.

But really, we wanted to review the Laser Pegs concept rather than this specific set.

The Laser Pegs - Light up LED blocks

These sets include pieces with coloured LEDs in, and a few with connecting wires, these pieces are called Laser Pegs and our set has an impressive 36 of them. The LEDs come in 7 colours: white, red, blue, green, yellow, orange and pink. There are small dots inside the pieces that indicate their colour. There are lots of different shapes too including traditional brick shaped pieces, dome and even a long connector wire piece that lights up on both ends.

Laser Pegs sets have a battery base, there are various kinds available, our set has a triangular base. The electronic pieces connect to a powered peg hole in the base (the triangular base has three such holes) and then pegs are connected to each other to take power throughout the model. 

The number of lights is impressive and we liked the range of colours. The lights are bright and work well in daylight although they are much more effective in the dark as you would expect. The models don't look quite like the ones on the promotional images for Laser Pegs. All of the blocks are transparent, there's nothing to diffuse the light, so from some angles you just get lots of single points of colour within a transparent model with little dispersion of the light. This is more of an issue in some models than others. I think the effect would be better if the blocks were slightly opaque. However, having clear blocks does mean that you can use other blocks around them to disperse the light, this is useful when using them with other construction pieces. Note that some models do have coloured bricks too.

The models also cast pretty shadows onto surfaces which is a nice effect. My kids have had lots of fun creating models and then taking them into a dark room and looking at the effects on the wall - bright colours combined with shadows of their LEGO minifigures and models.

Of course the light up pieces can be combined with pieces from other construction sets. This is where they really came into their own for my kids. They were able to use the Laser Pegs to light up other construction sets that they have. 

The Blocks

Obviously the light-up feature is key to Laser Pegs, but they are construction sets, compatible with leading brands, they need to work well as a construction toy. We were really impressed with this aspect. The blocks really cling together well, in fact we needed to use a LEGO tool to separate some of them.

Once built a Laser Pegs model can be played with without worrying that it's going to disintegrate. Rough play will knock pieces off, but it's surprisingly sturdy.

My eight year old really likes that some of the pieces have studs on both sides, this gives a lot of scope for building models that are more 3D than just stacked.

You can stack the blocks like other construction blocks but the Laser Pegs pieces allow a different style of construction as these pieces twist around a central axis though which the electrical connection is made. This gives a lot of variety in the kind of models you can build. 


One of the strengths of Laser Pegs is that the larger sets have instructions for lots of models. It's worth noting that the sets don't include instruction manuals for all of the models, that would be a lot of paper and would add to the cost of the sets.

Our set had instructions for one model with the rest available online as downloadable pdfs. We expected the instructions to be available through the Laser Pegs app but oddly only a few can be accessed there.

My kids are more than happy to follow instructions on their iPad, it's more convenient and means the instructions are always easily available.


The instructions themselves are clear and easy to follow. My eight year old built a large model easily and without any help.

Sound Activation

Sound Activation is a fun feature in the newer sets. When you put the base into sound activation mode the model will flash in response to a sound such as a child clapping their hands. This works well.

LEGO Compatibility 

We have a lot of LEGO so it's important for us that Laser Pegs work well with LEGO. We found that, you can easily mix Laser Pegs and LEGO bricks to light up LEGO models. My kids have had lots of fun lighting up their LEGO creations.

There's nothing in the LEGO brand that really allows this kind of play and it definitely appeals to my kids. I can see them lighting up their Halloween and Christmas models and anything else that could use a lighting effect.

They definitely see this as a set to play with alongside their LEGO rather than an alternative to it.

Age Suitability

Our set is a big one with lots of models to build. It says from 5+, this seems to be a general guideline for Laser Pegs rather than a specific one for this particular set. Age 5 is probably about right for the simpler models in the set, but there's lots here to keep older kids occupied too.


Laser Pegs bases take batteries but there's also an AC adapter available which makes a lot of sense for extended play and for using the models as display units.


Storage is always a practical consideration with toys like this with lots of pieces that need to be used together. The box that our set came in is too big to store the pieces in and too small to store completed models in.

You can get a separate Laser Pegs storage tub with a powered lid which looks like a good idea. Otherwise you're going to want to find some kind of storage box to keep the pieces with. You don't want them disappearing into a general construction brick collection so that kids can't find the light up pieces when they want them.

Tech Factor

One advantage of the clear blocks is that you can see the tech inside, the LEDs are clearly visible and so are the wires in the connector pieces. This went down very well in hour house. 
Mum! I can see the LEDs!
The models also need to be connected in order to light up so kids will have to think carefully when designing their own models to enable electricity to flow to all of their Laser Pegs and light them up. The use of a sound sensor is neat too. There's also lots to think about to get the best effects from the lights. And what kid can resist flashing lights?

My 7 year old wanted to know if the Laser Pegs were programmable. Not at the moment, but that would be a cool feature to have in the future.

Overall, Laser Pegs add some needed tech to construction toys.

We also really like the Laser Pegs 'Behind the Pegs' series of videos that the company has produced which gives some insight into how Laser Pegs sets are developed. It talks about artistic design, 3D modelling, 3D printing for prototyping, manual development, invention and marketing. Definite bonus points for this from us. It's fantastic when kids can get an insight into how their toys are designed, made and taken to market.

There's also a Laser Pegs app which supports 3D modelling using Laser Pegs. This takes a little bit of learning but it's well designed and older kids will be able to create virtual Laser Pegs models - the app even provides an inventory of the pieces needed to build it.


Overall, Laser Pegs is a cool addition to a kids construction block toolkit. For kids who like to build models from instructions there's a lot of value here, even without the light up feature. There's also lots of fun to be had for kids who like to design their own models. And the ability to use Laser Pegs to light up other construction sets is very appealing.

New kits are coming out all the time so we can see kids building up a collection and adding to it over time.

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